The List, Part 1: Greatest Albums Ever

It’s a busy time for me.  My girlfriend suffered a serious knee injury while skiing this weekend, just before our 5-day trip to Vegas.  So my blogging is going to have to take a backseat for a little while.

But fortunately for you, I have planned for these types of emergencies!

I’m a big fan of lists.  I love to rank things.  So I’ve been working for some time on my rankings for various things, and I’ll be posting these for the next couple weeks.  Feel free to comment, disagree, or even shred me to pieces.

Today we will start with my Top 10 Albums of All Time.  You will quickly see that I came of age in the early 90’s, but although I am a self-proclaimed Grunge lover I do have a little bit wider range of taste than just the Seattle Sound.  So here goes:

10. Kid Rock- Devil Without a Cause (1998)

Best Songs: Bawitdaba, Wasting Time, Only God Knows Why    

I’ve never been a fan of hip hop, but Kid Rock opened my eyes to the fact that it wasn’t the rapping that bothered me so much as the total lack of music in most hip hop.  Artists like Everlast and Kid Rock, however, combine solid music (you know, instruments instead of computer-generated beats or flat out stealing of other artists’ music without any sort of original addition to the sample) with rap and have been able to create a new crossover genre that I have to admit I quite like.

9. Jewel- This Way (2001)

Best Songs: Standing Still, Till We Run Out of Road

I take a lot of grief from people for being a Jewel fan.  My girlfriend, my guy friends, everyone tries to emasculate me. But I don’t care.  Jewel is without a doubt the greatest singer-songwriter of our generation.  And it really isn’t even close.  She’s Bob Dylan with more heart and a better voice.  And that’s not a knock on Dylan, she’s just that amazing.

8. Jack Johnson- Brushfire Fairytales (2001)

Best Songs: Flake, Bubble Toes, It’s All Understood

Another great singer-songwriter, Jack Johnson’s blend of folk with island music is the perfect soothing sound to relax to.  I don’t smoke pot but I suppose this is what stoners must feel like all the time.

7. The Why Store- The Why Store (1996)

Best Songs: Surround Me, Lies, Lack of Water

Most of you have probably never heard of The Why Store.  They were a college rock band doing the rounds of Midwestern campuses way back when I was in college.  They seemed on the verge of breaking into the mainstream in the mid-90’s with a couple tracks that got radio play; they toured with John Mellencamp and appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.  But they never got any further than that, which is sad because they’re still one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen.  You can still find this album on iTunes, you should definitely give it a listen.

6. Dido- Life for Rent (2003)

Best Songs: White Flag, Sand in My Shoes, This Land is Mine

Yes, I love female singers.  And Dido is one of the best.  Her voice sounds so sad yet somehow her music is still uplifting.  She’s a truly amazing talent, and Life for Rent is the highlight of her musical career and talents.

5. Jewel- Pieces of You (1995)

Best Songs: Who Will Save Your Soul, Foolish Games, Morning Song, You Were Meant for Me

What more can I say about Jewel?  This was the album that started it all.  She was such a raw talent when she started that this debut album feels like it was made in someone’s basement studio, and yet it is still one of the most amazing musical works ever produced.  (Side note: Jewel often pokes fun at herself about her voice in this recording of “Who Will Save Your Soul.”  She claims she was so nervous her throat closed up and she ended up sounding like Kermit the Frog.  Give it a listen and you’ll agree!  She sings it much better in concert but has still never re-recorded one of her most famous hits.)

4. Counting Crows- August and Everything After (1993)

Best Songs: Round Here, Anna Begins, Sullivan Street, Raining in Baltimore

I have to admit, I hated the Counting Crows when they first came out.  Their first big hit, Mr. Jones, was on the radio seemingly every other song.  And then one of my best friends from high school bought the CD and proceeded to play it out even more.  Thankfully, about a year after my buddy went off to another college and Mr. Jones had fallen off the radio playlist I rediscovered them and fell in love with this album.

3. Guns N’Roses- Appetite for Destruction (1987)

Best Songs: Nightrain, Paradise City, Sweet Child o’ Mine, Rocket Queen

Heavy metal the way it was meant to be!  There’s not a bad song on this album.  Axl, Slash and the rest of G’N’F’n’R’ were such a volatile combination there was no way they could ever last, but they sure managed to capture lightning in a bottle for a few years.  You know what they say about the flame that burns twice as bright…

2. Garbage- Garbage (1995)

Best Songs: Only Happy When it Rains, A Stroke of Luck

What do you get when you mix some of the top producers in the music industry (drummer Butch Vig produced Nirvana’s first album) with one of the best female singers in the business?  One of the smartest, most raw bands around.  Their debut album is a masterpiece from first track to last, raw and dark and absolutely rockin’.

1. Pearl Jam- Ten (1991)

Best Songs: Once, Even Flow, Alive, Black, Garden

This album literally changed my life.  Up until about age 15 most of my musical taste was confined to the heavy metal and 80’s hair bands of the time, Metallica and Motley Crue and the like.  But the moment I saw the Alive video in September 1991 I was hooked on Grunge.  I fell in love with the Seattle sound, and I still am to this day, even though the genre has pretty much been pushed into obscurity.  Someday I’ll be an old man telling young whippersnappers how music used to be “in the old days.”

This album is unbelievable.  From the intro of the first track Once it’s unlike anything that has been ever been done before or since.  Alive is quite possibly my favorite song ever, with the best guitar solo I’ve ever heard.  But Even Flow and Black could easily carry an album all by themselves as well.  It’s simply the greatest collection of songs ever assembled.  While Nirvana gets most of the credit for the Grunge Revolution, to me Pearl Jam and this album will always represent the music of the 90’s.

Honorable Mention: Bruce Springsteen- Born in the U.S.A. (1984); Led Zeppelin- Led Zeppelin IV (1971); Kid Rock- Rock and Roll Jesus (2007); Sheryl Crow- Tuesday Night Music Club (1993); The Why Store- Two Beasts (1998)

Don’t be shy, tell me what you think.  And tell me what’s your favorite album?


  1. Pearl Jam for the Win!!

    I’ll be showing my age by saying that is the ONLY one on the list that would make my top ten.

    VanHalen 1
    Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, The Wall
    Foreigner 1
    Rush 2112
    Queensryche The Warning, Empire
    Led Zep 1

    • I am a big fan of Classic Rock, but part of the problem with music “before my time” is that I don’t get intimately acquainted with individual albums but rather Greatest Hits collections. I love Zeppelin but I’ve never heard an actual Zeppelin album straight through; I had to research what songs went with which album to determine LZ IV must be a pretty amazing album. If I were to rank my top bands of all time Zeppelin would definitely be up there, and The Doors and Dylan wouldn’t be too far away.

      Queensryche Empire is a great album, but I think I like Mindcrime a lil better.

  2. Wow. Hopefully you wrote this after not showering for 3 days and wearing flannel. These are good albums but by no means the best ever!

  3. Hm…well….to each their own 😉

    I do like Dido, and Pearl Jam, and Kid Rock. But Jewel? No, I’ll pass. As for your comparison to Dylan? I never thought much of him anyway.

    And Sprinsteen can DIAF 😀

    As for my favorites, my tastes are so all over the place that I can’t do justice with a list.

  4. Let me get back to you. I will put one together.

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